Falcons' Trueblood not bitter with Bucs

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Sunday’s opponent should rekindle bad memories for Atlanta Falcons right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. But he won't allow it.

Instead of holding a grudge against the team that discarded him following seven seasons, Trueblood seems eager to catch up with some of his former Tampa Bay teammates.

"It’s going to be fun,’’ Trueblood said. "I spent a lot of time there so I know all those guys really well. Davin Joseph, Donald Penn, basically the whole offensive line I know really well. I know a few of those guys on defense pretty well, too. It’s going to be fun to play against them in a real game.’’

Nothing was pleasant about how Trueblood’s time with the Buccaneers came to an end. The former second-round pick started 68 consecutive games at right tackle for the Bucs from 2006-2010. He didn't start every game in '10. Then last season, Trueblood was benched after the first game in favor of Demar Dotson, the Bucs’ current starting right tackle.

"I just wanted to be a team player when it happened,’’ Trueblood recalled. "I wanted to do everything I could to help the team. So I wasn’t really caught up in the fact that I got replaced. The coaches knew I was all about winning.’’

Although Trueblood accepted the demotion and even auditioned at right guard due to injury, a part of him wondered how a guy who started 84 games suddenly became an afterthought. He was known as a strong run blocker but had well-documented struggles in pass protection.

"It was hard,’’ Trueblood said of losing his spot. "It was really hard just because I had been playing for so long. They really liked the guy who replaced me. You could see it coming. They asked me to take a pay cut. They starting split my reps. So I knew it was coming. It wasn’t like a total shock.

"I wish I would have gotten more of a chance than just one game, but it is what it is. I’ve moved on. And I’m in a better location.’’

Trueblood signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Bucs before the 2011 season. Now, he has a base salary of $840,000 after signing a one-year contract with the Falcons on Sept. 3. He took over the starting right tackle spot from Lamar Holmes, who now starts at left tackle for the injured Sam Baker.

Come Sunday, Trueblood might bump into Bucs coach Greg Schiano, the guy who benched him.

"He brought in a lot of stability to that program that they needed,’’ Trueblood said of Schiano. "He gets a lot of flak, but they’ve got a good team down there and good coaching staff. I don’t have anything bad to say about him.’’